A corm, composed of dense stem tissue and wrapped in papery leaf bases, is the underground storage structure of some plants. This is the corm of Arisaema atrorubens (Woodland Jack-in-the-pulpit) as it appeared to me after the fruit had ripened.
All parts of Jack-in-the-pulpit contain calcium oxalate crystals. If ingested raw, these crystals are capable of mechanically injuring your mouth, throat and kidneys. To safely eat the corm, as flour or like chips, it must be dried thoroughly or sufficiently cooked.
As a medicinal herb, the raw corm can be pounded into a poultice. This irritating, yet healing poultice can then be applied to rheumatic joints.
I have enjoyed the process of working with Faber-Castell polychromos colored pencils on Stillman & Birn Zeta paper. This strong paper is great for saturation and fine detail. It cleans up well, withstanding erasure with no visible compromise. Offering series of papers within sketchbooks, along with matching sheet papers, Stillman & Birn gives artists a consistency throughout the process of working toward a finished piece. Given my experience so far with this paper, it is a definite consideration for my "Art of the Plant" Exhibition entry!
Below is a scanned digital copy of the finished fruit, mature Jack-in-the-pulpit, species Arisaema atrorubens. Unfortunately, my scanner doesn't pick up the orange reds, nor the deeper colours I used in the shadow areas, so this image does lack the innate depth of the original. Note: variations of the floral parts can be found here.
The "Art of the Plant" Exhibition will be Canada's contribution to the larger exhibition, "Botanical Art Worldwide". "Art of the Plant" will open in Ottawa May 10, 2018, followed by the official "Worldwide Day of Botanical Art" on May 18, 2018. Exhibitions will remain open for several months. Follow the links to discover the details.
While the colours of these two Jack-in-the-pulpit flowers are quite different, they are of the same species, Arisaema atrorubens, otherwise known as Woodland Jack-in-the-pulpit. Under the umbrella of A. triphyllum, it is up for debate whether or not to consider Woodland Jack as simply a variety or a separate species. Two 3-part leaves as opposed to one is its main distinguishing characteristic.
Woodland Jack grows throughout Southwestern Ontario in woods and swamps. The flowers grow at the base of the boy part, called a spadix, which stands hidden beneath a leaf-like bract, called a spathe. The fruit of Jack grows in a club-like or egg-shaped bunch, deep green through the summer, then bright orange-red as the nights turn cool.
The only edible part of Jack-in-the-pulpit is the corm, an underground storage structure from which the roots sprout. Dangerous to eat raw, due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals, once thoroughly dried it can be ground into flour or thinly sliced like potato chips.
As an enthusiastic student of the natural world, I share my explorations of all that is wild with all of you — teacher, parent, and child!